San Diego Mayor Bob Filner has hired an executive consultant to help his office, a role that includes personal coaching.

Filner hired Justin Gittelman, a La Jolla-based management consultant, for $25,000 in city funds for up to a year of work. Gittelman’s job is to create a strategic plan to better the performance of the mayor’s office. The contract calls for professional, staff and organizational development for the mayor’s staff and “individual coaching with Mayor Filner.”

“The focus of every coaching session, training engagement, and developmental conversation is to acquire and refine knowledge, skills, and abilities to improve performance creating operational excellence,” the contract reads. “Areas to be focused include the following: Leadership, Communication, Delegation, Goal Achievement. Staff Development, Scheduling, Press Operation, and Process Improvement.”

Voice of San Diego obtained Gittelman’s contract through a public records request. The copy is unsigned and undated, so it’s unclear when he began working.

Current Chief of Staff Lee Burdick references Gittelman multiple times in her handwritten notes from a June 29 strategy meeting released Monday afternoon. Burdick wrote Gittelman proposed new communications and scheduling ideas. Filner rejected Gittelman’s scheduling plan, she wrote.

Two former top Filner deputies, Vince Hall and Allen Jones, have complained that Filner ran a “dehumanizing” and “abusive” office even before the sexual harassment scandal came to light. Hall said Gittelman tried to help Filner deal with his bullying.

“I know [Gittelman’s] been working very intensively on these issues,” Hall, Filner’s former chief of staff, said Friday.

Hall also said that former San Diego County chief Walt Ekard had tried to assist Filner with the same problems. Filner hired Ekard on a $75,000, three-month consulting contract before appointing him chief operating officer last month.

Gittelman declined to discuss his relationship with Filner or the city.

“As for right now, I have no comment on the mayor,” Gittelman said Monday.

In September, Gittelman self-published a business executive training book called “Whole Mind Thinking,” which provides advice on organizational alignment and boosting performance. Gittelman did not donate to Filner’s mayoral campaign, but the Facebook page for “Whole Mind Thinking” includes an October photo of Gittelman and Filner holding a copy of the book.

Update, Aug. 6: A signed and dated copy of the contract reveals the consultant’s scope of services changed slightly from the previous version of the contract.

Gittelman is required to have two individual coaching sessions with Filner every month, according to the signed contract. He also committed to 96 hours of work over the year-long life of the contract, meaning his hourly rate is $260. Gittelman began work May 1.

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Liam Dillon was formerly a senior reporter and assistant editor for Voice of San Diego. He led VOSD’s investigations and wrote about how regular people...

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